Category: Our people

ISAP Chair Appointed to New Role

The Chair of Ageing Well’s International Science Advisory Panel (ISAP), Professor Jacobijn Gussekloo, has been appointed Dean of the Honours Academy at Leiden University.
Leiden University, located in the Netherlands, is one of the world’s premier research universities. Their Honours Academy is a prestigious and future-oriented opportunity for high school, Bachelors, and Masters students to supplement their studies. The curriculum is multidisciplinary and offers students greater depth and an opportunity to explore outside of their own area of expertise. The Honours Academy aims to be a ‘testing ground’ to help foster greater innovation throughout the university.
Professor Gussekloo is currently Professor of Primary Care and director of the Master’s programme Vitality and Ageing at the University. In addition to serving on a number of other boards, she is Chair of our ISAP, a group of experts from all around the world who help guide Ageing Well research and connect our researchers with international networks.
Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie, Director of Ageing Well, was proud to see Professor Gussekloo’s expertise and leadership recognised by her home institution.
“Professor Gussekloo is an astute and strong leader who will be able to make an impact in her new role and help shape the minds of the next generation of students. The Ageing Well whānau wishes her all the best as she takes on this new professional role at Leiden University.”
{Image source: Leiden University}

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Newly Elected Royal Society Fellows

Ageing Well is proud to recognise two of our whānau who have recently been elected Fellows of the Academy of the Royal Society Te Apārangi. They are part of a cohort of twenty-three new Fellows who are world leaders in their area of expertise.

Professor Tahu Kukutai was honoured for her work in Māori demography and Indigenous data sovereignty.  She was a former member of the Ageing Well directorate. Current Ageing Well researcher Professor Murray Thomson, who is a vital member of our AWESSoM research programme, was named a Fellow for his contribution to dental epidemiology and research.

This is an outstanding achievement that recognises distinction in research, scholarship, or the advancement of knowledge at the highest international standards. 

The team at Ageing Well wishes to congratulate Professor Kukutai and Professor Thomson on this wonderful recognition of their mahi.  

Bios from the Royal Society Te Apārangi

Professor Tahu Kukutai (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tiipa, Te Aupōuri, Waikato), National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis, University of Waikato

Tahu Kukutai’s research focuses on two distinct but complementary areas: Māori demography and Indigenous data sovereignty. She has undertaken a broad range of applied population research, from iwi projections and demographic profiling, to survey-based analysis of Māori identity and whānau structure. She has published widely on Māori demography and ethnic identity and is recognised internationally for her work on state practices of ethnic and racial classification and census taking.

The impact of her work is demonstrated by the uptake by iwi, Māori organisations (such as the Independent Māori Statutory Board) and government agencies (Ministry of Social Development, Te Puni Kōkiri, Superu, Treasury), as well as many advisory roles (such as Chief Science Advisor Forum, 2018 Census External Data Quality Panel, Iwi Chairs Forum).

Professor Murray Thomson, School of Dentistry, University of Otago

Murray Thomson is a researcher in dental epidemiology and health services who has made important and sustained contributions to knowledge in a number of fields over the last three decades. His work in the renowned Dunedin Study has enhanced understanding of oral health throughout life. He is an expert on the oral condition ‘dry mouth’ and has developed measures which are being widely used in clinical practice and research. He has also made important contributions to understanding of the oral health of the ageing population and of the effectiveness of dental care in improving the lives of children and their families.

Murray’s national oral health survey work in Australasia has been internationally influential. He has also provided many years of service as an Editor-in-Chief for international scientific journals.

[Image Source: Professor Tahu Kukutai // Profesor Murray Thomson]

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AW Director Named Chair of Rauika Māngai

The Rauika Māngai, a Māori organisation that advances Mātauranga Māori, accelerates research, and positively influences science policy, says nau mai, haere mai to its two new leaders: Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie – Director of Ageing Well – and Dr Selai Letica.

These new leaders have paddled their waka towards the leadership roles within the Rauika Māngai. The new Chair of the Rauika Māngai is Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie and Dr Letica is the new Deputy Chair, following on from the great work done by former Chair Dr Jessica Hutchings and former Deputy Chair Dr Willy-John Martin.

Rauika Māngai is a term meaning ‘assembly of representatives’ and is a collective of leaders from the eleven National Science Challenges and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, Aotearoa New Zealand’s Centre of Māori Research Excellence. These scientists, managers, and leaders are at the forefront of creating a step change in the implementation of the Vision Mātauranga policy.

They work for the whānau, hapū, iwi, and diverse Māori communities that uphold tikanga and wairuatanga and extend the mātauranga continuum.

Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie is the Director of Ageing Well National Science Challenge, and researcher at the University of Otago, specialising in brain changes associated with Parkinson’s disease and chronic pain. She is Ngāti Maniapoto and Te Arawa.

The new Chair wished to convey her respect and admiration for the previous leaders and their commitment to making an impact.

“Leading a forward-thinking collective such as the Rauika Māngai is a significant role. I wish to thank the previous Chair, Dr Jessica Hutchings, and former Deputy Chair, Dr Willy-John Martin, for their tireless commitment to making an impact, particularly in the implementation of the Vision Mātauranga policy,” said Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie.

“Dr Hutchings and Dr Martin played an integral role in all that Rauika Māngai has done so far. We appreciate their strong leadership to make this collective a strong voice for Māori and mātauranga Māori in the science sector,” she added.

Under the leadership of Drs Hutchings and Martin, Rauika Māngai hosted wānanga to develop and release the Vision Mātauranga Guide in 2020. Additionally, they contributed to a groundbreaking report ‘Te Pūtahitanga: A Tiriti–led Science-Policy Approach for Aotearoa New Zealand’ that addresses the need for a robust science sector that demonstrates inclusion, accessibility, and equitable funding and outcomes for Māori.

During a period of transition between the two leadership groups, Dr Hutchings worked alongside incoming Deputy Chair Dr Letica to develop a series of in-depth webinars that looked at Wai 262, one of the most significant and far-reaching claims considered by the Waitangi Tribunal. The first webinar looked at the history and impacts of Wai 262 and the second discussed the claim and the opportunities for the National Science Challenges and the wider science sector.

The new Deputy Chair of Rauika Māngai, Dr Letica, works with Our Land and Water National Science Challenge and is the Director of oRangaHau Ltd, an independent firm that provides tikanga-based solutions within the agricultural sector and Māori communities. She is Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou, and Tagata Pasifika.

“The eleven individual National Science Challenges have been moving towards becoming Treaty-responsive organisations and we are encouraged by the progress so far. We have seen how it is possible to partner meaningfully with Maori communities, to effectively implement the Vision Mātauranga policy into our projects. The National Science Challenges (NSC) have partnered with the Rauika to provide a platform for us to champion the voices and contributions of Indigenous knowledge holders in the NSC system,” said Dr Letica.

Amplifying the work already done by the previous leadership is one of the key goals of Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie and Dr Letica. Energy will be put into addressing system change this year; creating tools and other resources for researchers, making submissions and evidence based recommendations for policy makers – drawing on our collective experience across all 11 NSCs. The collective has in the pipeline a compelling report on the Wai 262 webinars and discussion, as well as producing tools and resources aimed to support RSI managers and practitioners to understand and act on their obligations as Te Tiriti partners.

However, the first item on the agenda for Rauika Māngai was formulating the collective’s response to the Government’s Te Ara Paerangi science sector review. The vision that Rauika has for the science sector is to see that, within 30 years, Māori are equal partners with the Crown to determine the priorities and outcomes. They envision a system with a Māori science entity that includes mātauranga, traditional knowledge, and knowledge that Māori hold and generate now and in the future.

“Discussing the future dimensions of the science and research sectors is an important kaupapa for Rauika Māngai. We have an important perspective from which to help shape the future of Aotearoa New Zealand’s science sector and are looking to contribute our combined knowledge and experiences in a meaningful way,” said Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie.

“Leading the Rauika Māngai is an honour and a privilege, and I look forward to progressing the goals of our collective and so we can continue to make an impact,” she added.


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Prof Baxter Appointed Dean of Graduate Research School

Ageing Well is proud to congratulate our Co-Director Professor David Baxter on his appointment as Dean of the University of Otago Graduate Research School. The appointment was announced by Acting Vice Chancellor Professor Helen Nicholson earlier this week and Professor Baxter will commence this new role in April 2022.

Professor Baxter has extensive experience advancing graduate education, spending ten years as Dean of Physiotherapy at Otago and having led the establishment of a new Research Graduate School at the University of Ulster, UK. Additionally, he was significantly involved in the UK Council for Graduate Education.

“In a research-intensive university like Otago, this position plays a pivotal part in ensuring the success of future generations of graduate researchers and preparing them for the ever-changing research environments,” said Professor Baxter.

Director of Ageing Well, Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie, was elated at the news.

“This is a wonderful professional opportunity for Professor Baxter and I am gratified that he has been recognized for his long-standing commitment to fostering graduate research,” Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie said.

“Additionally, I am also pleased that his role as Dean will still allow for his continued involvement as Co-Director of Ageing Well.”

This sentiment was also reiterated by Professor Baxter.

“I look forward to remaining as the Co-Director of Ageing Well as we have much left to do,” he said.

Filed under: Our people

Queen’s Honour for Ageing Well ISAP Member

Professor Angus Hikairo Macfarlane, a member of the Ageing Well International Science Advisory Panel, was recently made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours List. 

He received the honour for his services to education, psychology, and Māori.

When speaking about his reaction to the news, Professor Macfarlane felt surprise and humility, as well as curiosity to know “Why me?”. Read the article.

We at Ageing Well wish to congratulate Professor Macfarlane on this well deserved honour. 

Filed under: Awards, Our people

New HRC appointment for Ageing Well Researcher

Associate Professor El-Shadan (Dan) Tautolo

Ageing Well researcher Associate Professor (Dan) Tautolo has been appointed Chair of the Health Research Council of New Zealand’s Pacific Health Research Committee.

Associate Professor Tautolo has spent his career focusing on the health and wellbeing of Pacific people. In our Tranche 1 research, he was the Principal Investigator on ‘Pacific Island Families‘, and has continued his work with us as a co-PI on the AWESSoM Project in Tranche 2.

For more information about his appointment, please see the HRC’s newsletter.

The Ageing Well team wishes Associate Professor Tautolo well in this new role.

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Ageing Well Welcomes New Members

Ageing Well welcomes new members into our whānau
Ageing Well welcomes new members into our whānau

Ageing Well is pleased to welcome new members into the Ageing Well whānau.

Joining our Governance Group, are Rauru Kirikiri, Glenis Philip-Barbara, and Professor Les Oxley.

Additionally, we also wish to welcome Dr Angus Hikairo Macfarlane to our International Science Advisory Panel and Dr Clive Aspin to our Strategic Advisory Panel.

In our most recent newsletter, our Chair, Dr Will Edwards, welcomed our new members and thanked our past members — Dr Di McCarthy and Garrick Cooper — for playing a vital role in our organisation.

“We welcome three new members to our Governance Group to help us steer our waka for the remainder of Phase 2 – nau mai, haere mai ki a Glenis Philip-Barbara rātou ko Rauru Kirikiri, ko Ahorangi Les Oxley,” wrote Dr Edwards.

“Ageing Well would also like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Di McCarthy and Garrick Cooper for guiding Ageing Well’s waka over the last few years. They were both integral in the changes that evolved for Phase 2 – ngā mihi ki a kōrua.”

For more information about our Ageing Well whānau, please visit Our People page.

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Creating an Equitable Vision for NZ Science and Research

The Rauika Māngai, Māori Directors and Vision Mātauranga specialists spanning the 11 National Science Challenges, developed A Guide to Vision Mātauranga.

The eleven National Science Challenges and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga recently collaborated to produce a Guide to supplement Vision Mātauranga. 

The Vision Mātauranga is a 2005 policy to unlock the innovation potential of Māori knowledge, resources, and people in New Zealand’s science system. The new guide, entitled A Guide to Vision Mātauranga – Lessons from Māori Voices in the New Zealand Science Sector, aims to provide a roadmap for fair and equitable outcomes in the science and research sectors.  

The Guide to Vision Mātauranga was developed by the Rauika Māngai – Māori Directors and Vision Mātauranga specialists spanning the 11 National Science Challenges. At two wānanga in late 2019, participants discussed what was working well and what needed to change so that Māōri researchers could succeed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This was the first time in over a decade that over 100 Māori researchers and leaders were able to meet for a robust discussion on Vision Mātauranga. 

Each wānanga had dedicated time for Māori researchers, plus open fora attended by non-Māori researchers and University leaders, and Ministry of Business and Innovation leaders and staff. These wānanga were supported by the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Professor Juliet Gerrard (who also attended the second wānanga), and culminated in a meeting with the Honorable Dr Megan Woods. 

Ageing Well Director, Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie (Ngāti Maniapoto me Te Arawa), was a member of the Rauika Māngai and contributed to document. 

“It was wonderful to be part of the discussions and to pave a way forward for the science and research community,” Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie said. 

“My hope is that by instituting the Guide to Vision Mātauranga, we will ensure that New Zealand’s research, science and innovation sectors reach their full potential, with equitable outcomes for all New Zealanders,” she said.

The Guide to Vision Mātauranga has 3 parts.

  1. Development of Vision Mātauranga Leadership:
    Exemplars of past and current visionary mātauranga Māori leadership across the science sector are shared to show what can be achieved.
  2. Bringing Vision Mātauranga to Life:
    Characteristics that define successful implementation of the Vision Mātauranga policy are imparted.
  3. Empowering the Future:
    How to pivot from Vision Mātauranga compliance to strategic opportunities is shared to pave the way forward for greater outcomes and impact for research institutions, stakeholders, Māori researchers and Māori communities.

Read A Guide to Vision Mātauranga – Lessons from Māori Voices in the New Zealand Science Sector here.


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Chair Announced New Directorate

Dr Dianne C McCarthy, Chair of Ageing Well National Science Challenge Governance Group, announced the new Directorate of Ageing Well on 2 April 2020.

Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie (Ngāti Maniapoto me Te Arawa) has been appointed the Director and Professor David Baxter returned to the Directorate as Co-Director until 31 December 2020. Professor Debra Waters resigned from the Director role to focus on her national and international research projects. Louise and Dave thank Debra for her leadership and dedication to Ageing Well over the last 6 years. Louise commented that “over the next two years Ageing Well will be focusing on amplifying the impact of findings by our dedicated research teams. It is a pleasure to welcome Dave back to the team, and draw on his expertise as Ageing Well continues to provide evidence to help all New Zealanders to reach their full potential into the later years of life.”

Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie
A/Prof Louise Parr-Brownlie
Prof David Baxter
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New Communications Manager

Ageing Well is delighted to announce that we have appointed a new Communications Manager: Dr Vanisha Mishra-Vakaoti.  

Vanisha has a PhD from the Australian National University with a background in Psychology and Social Research. She has previously worked as an independent research consultant, helping organisations plan and conduct research and produce knowledge products for a variety of audiences. Through her experience she has developed skills related to social impact storytelling and digital storytelling.

As we enter our second phase, Vanisha is excited to help promote all the amazing work that has and is being done by our researchers.  You can contact her on email at and via phone on: 021 279 1514

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Prof. Jacobijn Gussekloo appointed as ISAP Chair

We are delighted to report that Professor Jacobijn Gussekloo (Leiden University Medical Center) has accepted our invitation to serve as the chair of our International Science Advisory Panel. As Chair, Professor Gussekloo will play a critical role in 2018 as Ageing Well makes it case to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for a second tranche of government research funding (NZ$20 million).

Professor Gussekloo is a distinguished academic. Originally trained as a General Practitioner, she currently serves as Professor of Primary Care at Leiden University Medical Center. She is the chair (or a member) of numerous medical and research organisations, has held (and currently holds) multiple research grants, and has authored over 200 research outputs.

You can find out more about Prof. Gussekloo here:

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Ageing Well Governance Group members honoured

The Ageing Well National Science Challenge is delighted that three of our Governance Group members have been recognised for their accomplishments. Two have received Queen’s Birthday Honours, and one a prestigious appointment.

Dr Dianne McCarthy has been made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to science, business and women, as part of the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Marlborough scientist Dr Diane McCarthy becomes Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (Stuff website)

Adrienne von Tunzelmann, recently appointed to the Governance Group, has been made a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order for her services to governance and the community.

Giving back to the community has been a focus (NZ Herald website)

Dr Traci Houpapa has been appointed by the Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce to The Victoria University of Wellington Council.

Victoria Chancellor welcomes appointment of influential leader to University Council  (Victoria University website)

Read more about our Governance Group members

Filed under: Awards, Our people